Rarely does the law affect television programming strategy, but that has happened with Sony Entertainment Television (SET). At long last, one of the key stars in the channel's programming strategy, the Madhuri Dixit-hosted show Shubh Vivaah will be launched on July 29 as Kahin Naa Kahin Koi Hai. For almost 11 months now, Shubh Vivaah has been mired in litigation. However, since then, things have improved at the channel, which was in serious trouble a year ago.
Almost a year ago, the dominance of STAR Plus was unchallengeable. Kaun Banega Crorepati was still on, and the Bahu serials from the STAR Plus stable were the crème de la crème of Indian television programming. Sony had many of its shows floundering. Now, though things are better, the importance of the show cannot be underestimated.
For one, it will fit well in Sony's strategy. Taking a path different from that of STAR and its other rival Zee, which launched a whole series of new shows last year only to see them all bomb, Sony adopted a slot-by-slot, block-by-block, and day-by-day gradual build up. "We began by consolidating the 9.00 pm to 10.00 pm slot. And from May to September we will concentrate on the 10.00 pm to 11.00 pm slot. In September, when Kahin Naa Kahin Koi Hai airs, we will concentrate on the 8.00 pm to 9.00 pm slot," Nachiket Pantvaidya, vice-president, programming and production, SET, had outlined the channel's plans to agencyfaqs!. Against this backdrop, the clearing of the legal tangle could not have come at a better time.
Shubh Vivaah, the original show, had been scheduled to debut in March this year. In a sudden blow to the channel's plans, when Sony made the announcement with much fanfare in August, producer Anil Gupta of Taal Communications (Taal is promoted by Anil Gupta, a former consultant with Zee) went to court, claiming that the original concept on which the show is based - the meeting of prospective couples on the show - was his. His claim was that he had made Swayamvar, hosted by cine star Vinod Khanna, with the same theme, and offered it to Sony several times, only to be turned down. Gupta claimed that all the time Sony was planning to recreate its own version of the show, with Dixit as host.
Gupta contended that his 'idea' had been 'stolen'. The case, which was a landmark in Intellectual Property Law in the country, hinged on whether the concept of couples meeting on television could be patented. While Gupta's case hinged on copyright infringement, Sony claimed that the idea of marriage could not be copyrighted. However, the court ruled that Gupta's Taal Communications could launch the show in four months, while SET was restricted from telecasting the show for a further two months after that. However, if Gupta could not launch his show within the stipulated time, Sony had the right to launch its show.
Now, instead of fighting a long and weary court battle, Sony and Gupta have reached a settlement. Sony has retained Gupta as an advisor on the show as long as it is on air, and he will be paid for each episode. Though the figures were not available, it is estimated that the channel has not cut corners, with an estimated Rs 20 crore at stake.
Ironically, Kahin Naa Kahin Koi Hai will debut on a stronger wicket now. Shows like Dhadkan and Hubahu, which were launched by Sony in March, have not been doing so well. Further, in one way, rival Zee has cleared the decks with its reality show, Jeena Isi Ka Naam Hai. Reality shows have gained in popularity, depending on how different and how unique they are. Shows like CHannel [V] Popstars have also attracted considerable attention. The Kahin Naa Kahin Koi Hai format involves prospective bridegrooms and brides writing in; host Madhuri Dixit chooses like-minded couples and plays Cupid.
No doubt some couples at least will find happiness on the show; what remains to be seen is whether Kahin Naa Kahin Koi Hai is any match for the swashbucklers on rival channels. Â© 2002 agencyfaqs!